Do programmatic policies always yield electoral rewards? A growing body of research attributes the adoption of programmatic policies in African states to increased electoral competition. However, these works seldom explore how the specifics of policy implementation condition voters’ electoral responses to programmatic policies over time, or changes in electoral effects throughout policy cycles. We analyze the electoral effects of both the promise and implementation of a programmatic policy designed to increase secondary school enrollment in Tanzania over three election cycles. We find that the incumbent party benefited from a campaign promise to increase access to secondary schooling, but incurred an electoral penalty following implementation of the policy. We do not find any significant electoral effects by the third electoral cycle. Our findings illuminate temporal dynamics of policy feedback, the conditional electoral effects of programmatic policies, and the need for more studies of entire policy cycles over multiple electoral periods.
Dr. Ken Opalo is an Assistant Professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. His research interests include the political economy of development, legislative politics, and electoral accountability in African states. Ken’s current research projects include studies of political reform in Ethiopia, the politics of education sector reform in Tanzania, and electoral accountability under devolved government in Kenya. His works have been published in Governance, the British Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Democracy, and the Journal of Eastern African Studies. His first book, titled Legislative Development in Africa: Politics and Post-Colonial Legacies (Cambridge University Press, 2019) explores the historical roots of contemporary variation in legislative institutionalization and strength in Africa. Ken earned his BA from Yale University and PhD from Stanford University.